September 25, 2008

Statement By American Heart Association President Timothy J. Gardner, M.D. On Retirement of National Institutes of Health Director, Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Heart Association is profoundly grateful for the extraordinary leadership of Elias Zerhouni and his contributions to the field of science and research. As Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and longtime American Heart Association volunteer, Zerhouni ushered the nation into a new era of medicine with innovative and creative approaches to improving the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases and stroke and shaping the future of health. One of his landmark achievements, the NIH roadmap for Medical Research, created opportunities for collaboration among the institutes and the expansion of translational research. A key component of the roadmap, the 2005 Director's Pioneer Award, supports scientists of exceptional creativity whose pioneering approaches to challenges in biomedical research have led to new discoveries. And as a strong advocate for policy initiatives in support of NIH, Zerhouni was instrumental in boosting funding for the institute, providing a critical funding stream for young investigators.

We applaud Zerhouni for transforming the research community and securing congressional and public support for its lifesaving programs. By spearheading congressional passage of the NIH Reform Act of 2006, Zerhouni strengthened the agency's mission and helped to sustain groundbreaking research in a period of rapid innovation. Most notably, he advanced the Human Genome Project despite funding challenges and urged the scientific community to focus on research that would preempt disease before it strikes, tracking molecular pathways and providing a more precise understanding of how disease develops.

As a dynamic agent of change, Zerhouni expanded our knowledge of complex scientific research and encouraged young investigators to conquer disease with innovative approaches. By breaking barriers and fostering integration across all disciplines, his legacy will have a lasting impact on the scientific community and the next generation of pioneers.

American Heart Association

CONTACT: Kanika Lewis of the American Heart Association,+1-202-785-7935, [email protected]

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